A crumbling U.S. waterways infrastructure is set to receive a major upgrade if the Senate and House pass a compromise bill announced on May 15. After six months of horse trading, a bicameral conference committee agreed on the $8.2 billion Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014  that is expected to provide not only waterway improvements but also some 500,000 jobs.

The agriculture sector relies on heavily on the waterway system as more than 60 percent of U.S. grain and other commodity exports are transported along it. Further, 95 percent of farm exports and imports move through U.S. harbors.

”The waterways really are the gateway to how our nation helps feed the world,” said Randy Gordon, president of the National Grain and Feed Association. “And recent rail service disruptions have magnified and reinforced the importance of the United States having an ‘all-of-the-above’ transportation infrastructure policy that focuses on all modes -- truck, rail, barge and vessel.”

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